I feel it's my obligation to tell you the story from my side. Before it gets blown out of proportion, before others distort what really happened. I know it's probably too late, but I'm going to try. I owe it to my daughters, all of them, whether they agree or not.
I admit I wasn't the perfect parent, but who is? Ella was six when her mother died, and her father was already courting me before she turned seven. On her birthday I brought my three daughters to meet him and Ella. Mimi bossed her around, just like she does to Sophie and Lena. Ella was the youngest of the group. Silent, withdrawn, introspective; she was nothing like the other girls. Even later, as they grew up together, Ella was always the quiet one, always meek. It was her nature.
Some might accuse me of being too stern with Ella, of not giving her the advantages of my own children. But frankly she was better off after I got there than before. Obviously her mother was no housekeeper, and hardly knew how to dress the poor girl. I had to give her some of Lena's old clothes (some of which had been Sophie's before). Harry didn't understand what the girls needed, he only cared about marrying them off. Everything that girl had I gave her. And yet, I know her husband thinks I'm some sort of monster.
I admit that Ella wasn't my favorite of the girls. I defy any mother to deny she has favorite children. They all do. It's not Ella's fault. She's just so different from me. I'm always planning my next moves, always making lists in my head. I have goals that I set for myself, for my family, for all my daughters. And Ella, (or I should say Cindy, because that's her new name supposedly, it's on the wedding invites we received), Ella was always a day dreamer. And lazy. Her mind was always wandering off. I tried to instill some discipline into her, but she never appreciated it.
It's not like Mimi and Sophie and Lena didn't have chores to do as well. At first all the girls helped around the house. But Ella never seemed to understand what she was supposed to do. She wasn't dull witted, just couldn't focus. Maybe by the end Ella was doing more of the housework than the other girls, but they had been helping me longer. It's not like Harry ever did anything, and it was hard enough stretching our income to worry about getting a cleaning girl in. So Ella worked hard. So what? So did I growing up, and I don't blame my mother for it. I don't say she mistreated me.
Now Mimi knew the value of hard work. And I couldn't blame her for spending more and more time going to parties, learning those social skills. She was going to make it, and I wasn't going to let anything stop her. Sophie tries so hard to impress Mimi, she never gives me any trouble. Sophie doesn't waste time pining about in her imagination. She has her feet right on the ground. And Lena, she's the hellion of the lot. Before Ella even became part of our family, Lena was always pulling pranks on the older girls. It's just natural that she choose the youngest to fool with. Ella was such a pushover, after all. Lena never went too far. In a lot of ways Lena was just like my sister, so maybe I was a bit soft on her.
Honestly Ella was the best behaved of all the children. She never seemed to care to do things with the other girls. I'm sure she could have come on any of their little adventures every day, but she always hid in the shadows, always looked in from the background. I tried my best with the girl, forcing her into situations with the others. But it was like she never knew how to act with people. Never could follow a conversation very far, never could take teasing properly, never knew how to win an argument. She was intimidated by everything, by everyone. Like a little mouse. Some times I couldn't stand it. I felt so powerless around her, so impotent. So barren. She had no drive, no courage, no verve.
Until that bitch Elená showed up. She's Ella's Godmother, and her namesake. Used to be best buddies with Ella's mother, then moved out of the country for ten years when she died. Came back from her travels and takes the place next door. I tried to be friendly with her, I tried to welcome her into my home. But all she did was try to ruin me. Upstaging me at dinner with the children. Complaining about me to Harold. Usurping all my authority with Ella. Filling her head with all kinds of nonsense.
The only time I appreciated those little pep talks was when I saw Ella in the dress her Godmother bought her. She looked so beautiful, for the first time ever. I was actually a little jealous of her for a minute. Silly, I know. Lena didn't help by accidentally-on-purpose ripping the hem. I would have helped Ella fix it, except Mimi was already so embarrassed by having to go to a party with her younger sisters, and Harry and I had plans for the evening. So I decided that Ella was too young for the party, and that her dress could just wait. She shouldn't think she could go everywhere that the other girls were all the time. She would get her turn. But first Mimi had to shine. And Sophie and Lena too.
I forbade her to go, and it was for her own good, really, but it was too late. Elená had turned her against me. She somehow got to the party anyway, despite of my explicit instructions not too. I'm sure Elená brought her, in that horrible orange transport she has. Like some big ugly pumpkin. The girls told me she arrived a few hours late, in the new dress, and some sort of crazy shoes, clear or something. Probably Elená's taste. Ella never knew what looked good on her, she'd just wear any old thing she had, always clutching some old rag.
Sophie said she almost didn't recognize her because she had makeup on. Ella never wore even lipstick her whole life, and then suddenly it's full eyes and face. None of the boys had seen her before, and I'm sure they thought she was pretty. Pretty young is what she was, but men never know what's good for them. All the boys flocked around her. It infuriated Mimi. I can picture the scene well. Mimi is surrounded by all the older wealthy and important young bachelors at the party. She is carefully culling the group down, finding out who's the best, the brightest, the most likely. Then suddenly, like a bad film, all the men's eyes turn away to look at Ella. Then Mimi standing alone, with a handful of lesser girls glad to see her fall from popularity.
I guess I should have been happy that Ella was finally coming out of her shell. But she had defied me directly. And she snubbed Mimi and the other girls! Dancing with all the boys indiscriminately. I'm sure my daughters weren't the only ones upset that night. All the girls must have hated Ella. She should have known better, but as I said before, she didn't know how to act. It all went right to her head. By the end of the night she was dancing with the best bachelor of the lot. A real prince, you know what I mean? Sophie tells me that the kids counted down to midnight, like it was New Year's Eve, and I guess Ella got cold feet or something, because suddenly she ran away. Fool girl lost a shoe in the process.
So first thing I'm home and it's Mimi on one hand screaming about Ella, and Sophie on the other giving me the picture, and Lena's cut up Ella's new dress, and Ella's in the bathroom crying a sink-full. So I sent Ella to her room for defying me, and dealt with Lena the old fashioned way, with the back of a hairbrush. And I tried to calm Mimi and Sophie down. Of course Elená called, but I gave her an earful right back this time, because she's really the one ruined the evening, if you ask me. I grounded Ella for a week.
Meanwhile everyone's a buzz about who the new girl at the party was. I don't blame the girls for not telling everyone it was Ella. The fellow I mentioned before actually still had the stupid shoe, and started asking girls for their shoe sizes. He must have been pretty drunk not to remember what Ella looked like. Mimi had the nerve to try it on, then of course every girl around has to do it. Like I said, the guy was the catch. Was, because now Ella's marrying him, before any of my other daughters! She's much too young of course, but Harry doesn't care. He didn't even care she's changing her name to Cindy. The guy is rich and powerful, and that's good enough for Harry. I suppose it should be good enough for me as well, but they hadn't asked for our permission to get married. She isn't even asking the girls to participate in the ceremony! Mimi is beside herself. I just don't know how we're going to get through it.
She'll probably wear those damn shoes.